Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bits of Last Weekend -1

We are always delighted when our kids and grandkids come to visit us on Mayne Island... and to have them all home at the same time is pretty special.

Sherilee, Alan and Seth arrived first and on Sabbath afternoon our walk to Bennett Bay provided many photo opportunities.

I asked Seth to look into this hollow log.

I took this shot of Georgeson Island from the point.

Looking north towards Vancouver the shipping docks and ferry terminal doesn't seem all that far away.

Everyone was into taking pictures.

And sometimes  camera's were shared.

Shirley and Sherilee were excited to see the arbutus tree was in bloom...

Have you ever seen these blossoms up close before?

Meanwhile Seth carved his identity into another arbutus.

Isn't this a lush, green time of the year?

As we were walking out the last rays of sunshine added yellow to the trees.

Looking back into the sun coming thru the trees.

On the way home we stopped at the Lighthouse Park at Georgina Point.  Seth wasted no time before heading down to the water.

While I got focused on shooting a few flowers...

And sunlight maple leaves...

Alan and Seth were scrounging for starfish and sea life around the rocks.

It was a lovely afternoon to be on or near to the water.

Pickleball Comes to Mayne Island

One of the highlights of my time in Tucson this past April was playing pickleball with Lorne and the other retired guys every morning between 8:30 and 11:30 AM.  So, I have been waiting for the opportunity to have someone to play it with since coming home.

But where could we play?
And what could we use for a net?
I had picked up a starter package in Tucson with two wiffle balls and two paddles.
Shelby has ordered online an official pickleball net for Father's Day...
But I was anxious to not miss the chance to play while the guys were home for the weekend.
So, I went to my scrap pile and found some weathered half-inch plywood from which I could make a couple more paddles so that we could play doubles right away.

So we just took a short rope and and tied one end to the rear door handle of our car... which just happened to be about 36 inches high... and the other end we put thru the rear door and closed the door on it at the same height.

Soon Seth and I were batting the ball back and forth... having a great time.

I don't have a picture of the next stage of development, which was adding the masking tape to the pavement to create the serving zone and the rear limit line.  This was important so we could play a game and know if our serves were good or our shots were too long.

In no time at all we were in the throws of a serious game of pickleball.

Shelby came out and saw us having such a good time with next to nothing for equipment and said,
"Plywood for homemade paddles... 50 cents.
Rope for net... 75 cents.
Whiffleball... 90 cents.
Cars to hold up the rope... eighty thousand dollars."

Yes... and I might add, "A grandson to play pickleball with... Priceless!"

On the U.S. Memorial Day Seth and I invited Shelby and Alan to join us in a match at our Mayne Island Tennis courts.  With a new roll of green masking tape and a measuring tape we very quickly laid out an official pickleball lines and were into some serious competition.

We played hard for a couple of hours.  Our only problem was we didn't remember to bring water.  So I volunteered to go and get some.  As I was turning the car onto the street I noticed the neighbour watering her newly planted grass... so I backed up and asked if that water was good for drinking.

She said it was great water for drinking and invited us to have a drink from the hose.

As we were driving home we were wondering how best to find out if there were other people on Mayne Island who might like to play pickleball.  That will be my next challenge.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Common Miracles Abound

We have been so busy it has been hard for me to stop and blog.
But I've heard it said, "Better late than never." So here goes.

Spring is kind of a "Common Miracle," right?  I think we have come to expect a warm spring... and then when we get a really cold, wet spring like this year we are so happy to get a warm, sunny day.

Along with spring comes flowers... and what greater joy is there than to see flowers growing in your own garden... which is another "Common Miracle."  There is nothing we could do to make those seeds, or bulbs burst forth into a plant that blooms.  And so I see the face of God in every flower.  It is His work of art that brings so much enjoyment to us.

Shirley planted some tulip bulbs last year... which I completely forgot about.  So you can imagine my surprise when I saw these wonderful flowers showing off their colours in the morning sunshine.

They are on the ridge on the east side of our house... and I get a lot of joy out of seeing them there.

"The best place to seek God is in the garden.  You can dig for Him there." -George Bernard Shaw

"The apple blossom exists to create fruit; when that comes, the petal falls." -Kabir

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope." -Lady Bird Johnson

"We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them.  We say we love trees, yet we cut them down.  And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved."

These rhodies are smiling on the day, enjoying the sunshine and passing on their love... happy to see me taking their picture.

Shirley saw me laying on the ground to take this photo of these bluebells...

Later that morning I caught her taking a break from weeding... still with her knee pads on... laying on the hard pavement trying to get a close-up shot of the same bluebells.

We watched a very interesting movie on Netflix... "Greenfingers."  If you have any interest at all in gardening you will certainly appreciate this movie, based on a true story about some high security prisoners in Britain who got into gardening... and found new meaning in life.  Click here to view the movie trailer.  It is a tear jerker.

For some time now we have wanted to take out several trees that shade the sunshine from our greenhouse... but since the trees were so big and so close to the buildings and our power line, I was afraid to tackle the job without a professional... one mistake could be very costly.

Meet Dr. Daylight.  We hired Ian Middlewitch, a tree service man from Saturna Island, who came last week and in about five hours dropped 10 difficult trees... he also cleaned up dead branches on several tall trees that I could never reach, like the one in this photo.

There was one tree that we found after falling was rotten in the middle. If it had come down in a storm it would have taken out our power and maybe our water tank.  It was the toughest one to bring down.

We worked together to get most of the trees on the ground.  Sometimes Ian would climb up high into the tree and attach an 150-foot heavy rope.  I would then attach it to a block on another tree down the hill, in the direction the tree was to fall and with my John Deere tractor I would pull on the rope to insure the tree did not fall the wrong way.  Just one problem.  On a really big tree that was leaning backwards, I did not tie a fail-proof knot... and as I was pulling with the tractor, the rope came untied.   Ooops!

The tree could have gone backwards and into the water tank!  But I hollered right away and Ian stopped cutting.  The tree stayed upright long enough for us to get reconnected... and we got the tree on the ground safely.  After Ian said, "We got a free one there!" It was a miracle that my sloppy knot came undone early enough and not after too much had been cut on the tree or we could have had a disaster.  For some reason I missed getting a photo of the crisis.

Ian taught me a new knot after that incident... the bowline knot.  Check it out... the website is pretty cool.  He said if you ever have to tie a rope around yourself when being rescued, this is the best knot to use.  Hope you never have to use it for that... but I will sure use it again for pulling trees or other times when safety is required.

The mess we made in five hours took more than 5 days to clean up.  I have so far loaded up my tractor with the bucket extension with 16 huge huge loads of branches and burned them... and I have still have a couple more to pick up before it is all done.

The difference in the daylight in the greenhouse is incredible... it is significantly brighter.  Now the plants should really do well.  No excuses.

For some jobs is seems like one has to go backwards to reach the objective.  This project made a huge mess in the process of achieving the goal, but it was worth it.